Can I Deduct Educator Expenses on my Taxes?

July 18, 2023 by Steve Banner, EA, MBA
School Supplies

Yes, the short answer is that you can deduct those expenses if you are what the IRS calls an “eligible educator.” However, just as sure as the sun rises in the east – and the Dallas Cowboys think they have a good chance to make it to the Super Bowl this year – there are certain limitations and conditions involved.

The first limitation is that the amount you can claim is limited to $300 of qualified expenses. But if you are filing jointly with another eligible educator, each of you can claim up to $300 of your eligible expenses, which means the total Educator Expenses deduction on your return can be as high as $600.

Having said that, let us look at what qualifies as an expense for the Educator Expenses deduction. Expenses that qualify are amounts you paid or incurred (and were not reimbursed for), such as books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom.

If your educational role included courses in health or physical education, you could include your expenses for athletic supplies. However, nonathletic supplies for these courses are not qualified expenses.

Unreimbursed amounts paid for participation in professional development courses related to the curriculum you teach or to the students you teach are also qualified expenses. For tax year 2022, you can also include the unreimbursed amounts you spent on personal protective equipment, disinfectant, and other supplies used for the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking of the coronavirus, it is important to note that qualified expenses do not include expenses for homeschooling or for nonathletic supplies for courses in health or physical education.

Looking at the above list of eligible expenses, the parents of school-aged children could be forgiven for thinking that they should be able to claim this same deduction for the amounts they spent during the year on the students in their own family. But, as we said at the beginning of this article, the Educator Expenses deduction is only available for “eligible educators.” So, who or what is an eligible educator?

According to the IRS, an eligible educator during the tax year:


  • worked in a school that provided elementary or secondary education as determined under state law,
  • worked for at least 900 hours during the school year, and
  • was employed as a K-12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide.

Please note that this last point excludes folks like college professors and Sunday school teachers. Although these individuals are educators who likely have incurred out-of-pocket expenses during the year, they do not qualify as eligible educators for this deduction.

But if you do meet the conditions we have described, you can deduct up to $300 of your qualified expenses. Please remember that we are referring to your “net” expenses or, in other words, the amounts that you spent or were liable for after any reimbursement you received.

The IRS does not require any specific documentation to support your claim for the Educator Expense deduction, but we recommend that you keep records of your qualified expenses in case your deduction is ever disputed. In the same way, you should also be prepared to provide evidence of your status as an eligible educator in case this ever comes into question.

Speaking from the experiences of the educators in my own family, I personally think that it is quite likely that you spend more than $300 out of your own pocket for books, supplies, and other items related to the classroom during any given year. But at least you are getting something in return for your extra efforts to help your students learn – even if the students don’t always seem to appreciate it!



Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Tax Content Developer


Steve Banner began his career in the field of income tax in 1977 and has since gathered business experience in a variety of countries and cultures. In addition to the United States, he has lived and worked for extended periods in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Sweden. Along the way he studied Adult Education and earned a Bachelor of Education, Master of Educational Administration, and MBA. He joined TaxAudit in 2016, where he is a Tax Content Developer.


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